MC's Whispers

Whispering Silences

Archive for the month “January, 2015”

Meltdown

Are you living your dreamIt’s always there in the shadows. Looming in the cupboard and in the drawers. In the places you least expect it to be. It takes the slightest bit for it to sneak up on you. But when it does, it covers you tighter than the black cape that wraps Batman in the midst of the night. Some find it after the second bottle of wine, some after a nervous breakdown, others during a breakup, but more often than not, it is there in the simplest and smallest of things, waiting to be noticed.

Parker was a quite boy. He was the smartest in his class all through college. He grew up to become a charming young successful professional, and career-wise he had a lot of potential. He lived up to and beyond the expectations of his superiors and everyone praised the fantastic work he did.

Then he went home.

He went home to an empty house. Not even the cat would stay there because it was so cold, as he was at work all day. He ordered in food or picked it up on the way home, never having the time or energy to cook something on his own. He was in a town where there was nothing much to do either and all his college friends where someplace else. He was the only one who had returned to his hometown. And he disliked this, more than he hated the burnt mushrooms on his pizza.

Parker’s life had become nothing more than work and home. And although he enjoyed the flexibility of sometimes working from home, he chose not to. Because no matter how many electronic messages he exchanged with tens of colleagues, not leaving the house meant he had absolutely no physical contact with anyone. Not even the aforementioned cat. The isolation he already had was more than enough.

His job was that of a copywriter. And that did not mean copying other people’s writing. It meant coming up with inspiring and unique ideas that could be used in, for example, advertising a company or product. And Parker was great at that. He had a creative mind, mainly because he dreamt a lot, and could find inspiration in the slightest of things. To him doing this was as easy as breathing. Until it stopped. Being easy that is.

Because it hit him.

It came when he least expected it. It was triggered by the tiredness, the spying on others through their social media accounts, the exasperation of being stuck here when everyone else was seemingly living their lives and doing the things he wanted to do, the not having anyone to follow away, the not being able to fully indulge in a head-over-heels love affair, the simple realization that he had not accomplished half the things he had dreamt of doing by now.

That is when the meltdown hit him. And it struck hard. This time was worse than when he finished college and didn’t know what to do. It was worse than running out of Nutella at midnight on a weekday while studying for a midterm, and even worse than the sobbing that ensues a depressing Gilmore Girls episode. This time it was painful. Because, this time Parker did not want to do anything. At all. He did not leave his home for two weeks, at least. The cat was forced to come over and see if he still existed.

And that is when he realized he would do something to change things. Because he realized that even his cat had moved on, when he saw that someone else had put a collar on it. That was the trigger to get up and do something.

He packed up a suitcase and left.

He would go to the airport and fly out on the first attractive destination he would find. He saw it done in movies so many times. Thinking practical and realistic all this time never got him anywhere anyway, so why not take a risk?

He would start afresh somewhere new. All he had to do was accept the challenge. And he was more than ready to do so.

What point was there anyway to keep on dreaming, if he would never even try to accomplish them? Otherwise, they would just remain that. Dreams. Unfulfilled.

 

Also part of Daily Prompt: All Grown Up

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Selfish Shellfish Selfies

ShellfieGo into a café. Look around. How many people do you see who are really conversing? Who are actually talking and listening to each other? Look at their hand gestures, their body movement, their eye contact. Any? Now, count how many people you see instead being distracted by a digital device. Too many to count, huh?

It’s amazing how the first thing we have come to notice when entering a café, a bar, a restaurant, is whether they have free Wi-Fi or not. As if that is the criterion of whether their food will be healthy or tasty, or even edible. Because of course, we then have to check-in, post on every social media account we have, that we are at that specific place. And then, we have that irresistible need – that feels like an itch that must be scratched – to take selfies of everything, as if that is what will prove our existence.

We have become such narcissists and so self-centred that when someone asks us what we do, we hesitate for a while, and our thoughts run to the last thing we posted or read online in order to find an interesting conversation starter. How many hours of the day do we spend sunk in a screen, reading. As though we are shellfish retreating in their hard exterior, waiting for the moment a pearl will emerge. Reading about the news, about other people’s status updates, about pretty much everything. Because we need to be informed about everything. And then we also need to have an opinion about everything too. And we obviously need to post it to demonstrate that we are opinionated and follow the current trends.

But just consider for a moment, what happens during a power cut? We sit in silence not knowing what to do. And if we still have charged phones, we might take a selfie and save it for later, to post as soon as power is back – #blackout #nowwhat #awkward.

Is this what we want to be remembered as? The generation hashtag? We are so busy trying to prove that we are active digitally that we don’t really do much in reality. What is the point of going for a hike or for a cross-country train ride, when you keep posting updates of your location? How are you exactly enjoying being in nature away from the digital insanity? Sure, take pictures, but save them for later. Then you can comprehensively recap your experience and tell others how worthwhile it was to escape for a while. Prompt yourself and others to step away from the screen.

Because, honestly, is this all we have to show for ourselves? That we are selfish shellfish taking selfies?

 

Also part of Daily Prompt: Don’t You Forget About Me

Also part of Daily Post: 21st Century Citizen

Don’t talk. Just listen….

unknown call– Don’t talk. Just listen. Did you see the fireworks yesterday? Yes, just after the new Prime Minister’s victory speech? It was as if the country was having one huge party. Well, I don’t blame them. I mean the guy’s just 40 years old. And he is not bad to look at either. Plus, the casual, no-tie look makes him more likeable. I think that’s one of the reasons why he won over so many people. He managed to convince them that he relates to them. He is one of them. And like he said, he wants to have a government that belongs to all the people. Well, good luck. It would be great if at least somebody managed to do so. But did you see the fireworks in the capital’s centre? It reminded me of those 4th of July fireworks. You remember then ones. That is when I met him. You know who. That bastard who broke my heart. He played me like a fiddle on the roof. You know I ran into him the other day at the supermarket? He was shopping for groceries. At least that is what he said. He looked good. Was wearing jeans and a shirt. A shirt I got for him. It felt very weird. To be honest I even forgot to buy half my shopping list after I saw him. I was so depressed by the time I got home, that I spent the entire night watching series on TV and going to bed by midnight. I know it’s pathetic, but what do I do? Come on, you know what I am talking about don’t you?

– I’m sorry, who is this?

– Becky? It’s me, Deborah.

– I’m sorry, I’m not Becky and I don’t know any Deborah.

– Oh. Well, this is embarrassing. I am so sorry.

– Not a problem. I hope everything works out. And don’t worry, we’ve all been there. It takes time. Stay strong!

– Thanks! Sorry again for this awkward call!

[Dials Again]

– Don’t talk. Just listen…

 

Also part of Daily Prompt: Unknown Caller

If the stars say so…

horoscopeMrs Karapatsos who lived down the hall had a thing for horoscopes. I don’t know exactly how to describe it because it was much more than a simple addiction, or a fixation. It was much more than an obsession too. She would read her horoscope every single day. And from multiple sources too, “in order to have an all-rounded idea”, as she said. She would never leave the house before having read her horoscope.

In fact, one time she recalled that she was late for a meeting at the bank, yet she couldn’t find a newspaper or magazine with the morning’s horoscope and missed the radio show reciting them, so she had all tenants on foot trying to find something that would appease her enough to get out and off to her business.

She claims she wasn’t always like this.

It all started with a strange coincidence.

You see, when she was young, she too was carefree and didn’t pay much attention to such things. Horoscopes were a thing older women believed in, she thought. She considered it a fun game and would occasionally read through hers, whenever she fell upon it. But she didn’t exactly go looking for it. And certainly did not have the “horoscope fetish” she now did. She believed it was absurd that people would read their star signs and spend the day, week, month, even year, expecting /waiting / fearing for what it said to happen.

She even looked into it once. She had an old woman living in her building and had asked her the same thing, everyone was now asking her: why do you believe in this so much?

Mrs Karapatsos received the same reply, she had now embellished: Because we all need something to believe in. Something ‘lighter’ than religion. Ever since forever people have been trying to predict the future. Horoscopes allude to offer that, even if it is only a short-term version of it. We need to feel assured that we know what to expect. That we know what is coming and are prepared for it. No matter if we are never truly prepared for anything. Let alone fate itself. But this old woman strongly believed that the stars knew something more than we did, and those who could read them gave us a glimpse of the future, and we should learn to acknowledge it.

The young Mrs Karapatsos smiled and took it all in with a glass of homemade lemonade and two freshly baked cookies. She never thought of it again. Until one particular day.

Everything was going wrong from the minute she literally got off on the wrong side of the bed. You see, she always got off on the right; it was nearer to the bathroom. But this day her phone rang and she had to get up on the left as it was closer to the table where she had placed her phone. And that is when it all began: the unexpected water shortage when she was rinsing her hair in the shower; the power cut as she touched the switch with a wet finger; the slip on the wet bathroom tiles; the curly hair and the hippy look during an important business presentation; and then, to top it all up, the car crash as she was coming home in the afternoon. It was simply a horrible day. One Murphy would look at and laugh, as it was the very embodiment of his Law.

Arriving home, exhausted, depressed and a nervous wreck, she ran into the horoscope-crazed old lady with whom she coincidentally shared the same star sign. The old lady had not gone out all day, because she said “it was not a good day for Sagittariuses”.

Intrigued with the statement, Mrs Karapatsos searched for her daily horoscope. It read: Be careful what side of the bed you get up from today. A difficult day in all aspects. Be more patient and have more courage than usual. Attention when driving.

Mrs Karapatsos was dumbfounded. Could it really be?

And well, that is pretty much how she too came to believe in “the power of the stars”.

 

Also part of Daily Prompt: Second-Hand Stories

Between a couch and a wild place

The leather couch used to squeak whenever he would slide down onto it. It didn’t anymore. You could even feel the small dent in the middle caused by all those people it had accommodated over the years. He could proudly or shamefully (it depends how you saw it) proclaim that he had grown up right there on that brown leather couch. In that down town office that was as modern as could be, with white walls that were repainted every five years and modern, funky furniture that invited the waiting patients and offered the illusion that they would take their troubles away.

Relax”.

That was the first word he heard every time he sat on that couch. It was Mr. Waterman’s job, though, to say so. He needed his patients calm so that they could pour out their soul to him during the next hour and he could attempt to provide some solution, consolation or advice to their problems. And these were many and varied. But over the years he had heard a lot. Just not from one particular patient. This one had proven to be an especially difficult case.

Brandon would simply refuse to speak out, to tell the professional sitting across him what troubled his mind, what made his heart ache, where his eyes wandered when he stared at the horizon out of the window. Whatever the exhortations or appeals Mr Waterman would use, discreetly or not, Brandon did not want to speak. He simply sufficed to say that he had nothing to say. Mr Waterman even tried to entice him with milkshakes and chocolate, but that didn’t work even when he was a young child, let alone now.

After around twenty years of therapy, Brandon still had nothing to say. Yet, he was as confused and tormented inside as he had always been. A storm was still brewing inside of him. It was just silent to the outer world.

Brandon was a child that kept to himself. He became quite the introvert as a young man, although he loved to socialize and go out with friends. But when he returned home, he liked to stay in his room doing his own thing, whatever that was – reading a book, listening to music, surfing the web. And just like he disturbed no one, he himself did not like to be disturbed. His upper class parents believed he was a troubled child. They described him as “emotionally unavailable” and “awkward” and pleaded Mr Waterman to “fix him”. So Brandon grew up in the office of a shrink. Only none of them knew about it.

Mr Waterman watched Brandon grow from a quiet boy into an unsuccessful rebel, into an elegant and well-educated young man. From the few things Brandon had uttered in his office, the professional understood that the boy felt misunderstood, that no one could comprehend what he felt or thought and that is why he preferred to stay silent. So the hours were spent talking about culture, the news, and well, anything other than himself. The latest thing that made Brandon’s eyes gleam with excitement was a photo book of the most amazing places in the world that should be visited. The first-page inscription –a quote by William G.T. Shedd: “A ship is safe in harbor, but that’s not what ships are for” – was what mostly inspired his heart to sing. But Mr Waterman knew that the storm would finally break out; he could see it the young man’s eyes, his gaze was looking further than meets the eye. It was obvious that he was in search of something out there that was not immediately visible.

And the storm arrived.

It came in the form of a hand-written letter and a tidied-up room.

I run because I no longer want to hide.
Because there is so much more out there to explore.
Because I want to move on with my life and do something substantial.
Because I feel I cannot reach my true potential if I
am locked down here, without facing any real challenges or the endless possibilities that seem to be out there.
Because I want to be somewhere where people know me for me and not because of who I know.
Because I want to be heard without needing to yell and fight.
Because I want to rediscover the joy of Fridays and looking forward to the weekend.
Because I want to live and see places and not just hear about them from other people’s past experiences.
Because I want to find a house that is mine from the start, that I decorate and organise to fit my needs.
Because it is part of growing up and independence is a powerful thing to have.
Because I don’t want to waste time anymore, waiting.
Because I want to finally find and taste at least one happy ending.
I run because I am not running. I simply want to live.

Get excited and change things

There are some moments in life when words just won’t do. And what is more, you can never find the right ones to express yourself.

Sometimes we don’t need advice. We just need someone to listen. Or someone to inspire us.

And just sometimes, we find that through the most unexpected sources, like the internet – in image-quotes (memes) that contain everything that needs to be said.

Kind heart in a cruel world

Destination - journey

Still want to smack some people

All those things you've always wanted to do

Life is short

There is more inspiration here.

Turn to page 82

82The thing with bookworms (people who love books, not worms who live in them) is that they are deeply attracted by the writing on them, particularly that on the cover. And especially the back cover. So, when you grab a book with a huge “82” drawn on the front on a blueish background and with all sorts of creatures and objects flying, crawling or even drilling their way out of the number itself, it does catch your attention. So, you turn it over to read the summary on the back. All it says is “This book has a significant focus on the number 82. It tells a story like no other, which will remain with you long after you read it. Now, you want to find out what the number 82 has anything to do with it, don’t you? Well, you’ll just have to read the book then…” You think it is silly. But it already has you gripped. And the next thing you know, you’re comfortable in your relaxing armchair, with your soft, fleece blanket at your knees, and a steaming hot cup of tea at the table beside you, and you turn the first page of this new book.

It had a fascinating start. It was a story about a young man who had learned to read from a shepherd who took refuge in his barn one night. And he inadvertently found his first book one morning when he went to offer the shepherd-guest some food but discovered he was gone. All he left behind was a book. Intrigued, the young man began to read it, as he believed it would solve the mystery of the shepherd’s presence.

That is when it first appeared.

“Turn to page 82”.

Was this a Fighting Fantasy book? It couldn’t be. But the man tried to find page 82 to turn to anyway. (So did you). Page 82 was nowhere to be found. (It was nowhere in this book either). It was not between pages 81 or 83, nor misplaced in any other part of the book. Nor were there any signs whatsoever that it had been ripped out. Page 82 had simply never been a part of that book. (Nor in this one – clever, huh?).

But drowning in curiosity, the man continued to read on from where he left off. A few pages later, it appeared again.

“Turn to page 82”.

The same process was wearingly repeated. The man continued to read on. It was a story that seemed incoherent. With weird animals, imaginary creatures and ghosts appearing out of nowhere, with the story taking place on earth, in the ocean, on different planets, in different universes, at different times even. It was utterly confusing, but for some reason it kept you wanting more. That’s the other thing with bookworms – they must finish the books they start reading; it’s a matter of principle.

So whenever the prompt to turn to page 82 appeared – and it appeared quite often – the man simply ignored it and continued to read on. (So did you). He had still not understood the storyline or purpose of the book, but was profoundly drawn into it by now. (And coincidentally, so were you).

Alas, he reached the final page. He thought that finally he might understand what all this “turn to page 82” was about. It turns out, however, that the book would eventually end in a cliché: this was all a dream. The young man had apparently imagined it all – the strange paradoxes, the hen fighting with an elephant, the appearance of a yoku (a beast which was half eagle, half something that resembled a lion-snake) and its defeat using rat’s poison that was taken from a far away planet that could only be reached by planting a specific type of bean that grew from tomato plants watered with coke. It was so confusing that you were surprised you had managed to last until the end. So, although you were deeply disappointed that all this time you were reading something that was in essence never there, a smile did form on your face when you read the last sentence explaining that the man had fallen asleep in his quest to find page 82 in a book that simply did not have it because a publisher had been distracted when numbering the pages.

And that is when you closed the cover and put the book down. “Well, that was ingenious”, you thought.

 

Inspired by Daily Prompt: Connect the Dots

The tomb of a king and the trouble of a peasant

Macedonian starIt was not every day you would visit a King. No matter if he was no longer alive. A King would forever be a King. And that was important and majestic in its own right. Billy had learnt to live with the bare necessities, as his farm would produce all he needed to live and some extras to sell at the market. That was all his income and how he managed to scrape by. So, to him, an audience with a King was something extraordinary. A true privilege. At least he thought so.

The discovery of the royal tomb found deep underground by archaeologists who had devoted a large part of their careers excavating in search of this, had taken the country by surprise. No-one expected they would be lucky enough or even blessed with the honor of witnessing at least some of the riches a past monarch had lived with. And to everyone’s delight, it was announced that this was the Warrior King, the General, the one who had united their country and who had made it the most prosperous in the region, at least during his reign. He was the figure that adorned their national currency, whose name was on countless of streets, buildings and auditoriums. He was the King children first learned about during their history lessons. And now, Billy would go see for himself the magnitude of his greatness.

Even that, though, was no easy task.

It was winter and a heavy one for that matter. The town had never been so snowed down for at least twenty years now. But it was a day when Billy did not have a market to go to and he wanted to escape the frost. The royal tombs were located an hour’s drive away, he was told.

So he went to the train station and purchased a return ticket. It wasn’t too expensive and he was already excited about his venture. Then the delay came.

The train had ran into some bad weather, which caused it to slow down. But it was not too bad, Billy thought. A half-hour delay would only mean he would have to read the inscriptions that accompanied each relic a bit faster now. The museum, after al,l was only open for five hours during the day. It was located in the very space the tomb was found, especially constructed so as to preserve and properly exhibit the findings. So it was only right that it would be open while still daylight – because, really, who would want to be touring a tomb after dark?DSC00784

So, anyway, Billy had an enjoyable train ride to his destination, although the heating seemed to not be working properly because by the time he had arrived he could not feel his feet. He thought two icicles were attached to his lower ends instead. Once off the train, he looked around, hoping to at least find a café where he could grab a hot drink to get his blood flowing normally again. But there was nothing.

Absolutely nothing. This station might as well have been located in the middle of his field. There was no sign of civilization around it. Nor any other train for that matter. There was only a bus, whose driver was hastily announcing that it was departing any minute now. Billy ran up to him and enquired how he could get to the royal tombs. The bus driver said it was another half hour from there but this bus would take him to the centre of the town and from them he would have to take another bus to go to the Museum.

Billy was already getting a headache. But there was no other way, so he took a seat on the bus (after paying of course) and tried to understand how his route would fan out now.

DSC00776It took Billy three and a half hours to finally arrive at the museum. You see, he unfortunately got on the wrong bus at the town centre and was driven off somewhere else, so by the time the next bus came he was already waiting for 20 minutes in the cold. And in this next bus, which rattled like a wooden cart drawn to market, the bus driver said that he should obtain his own ticket from the machine, but the machine would not cooperate, and he could not make any sense out of what the old men on the bus were trying to tell him. In the racket that was going on, he sensed that the stone gates and the large sign that said “Royal Tomb – Museum” was where he should get off. He thanked everyone, still not understanding their response and jumped off.

Billy was awed by the Museum. The Royal Tombs were strategically camouflaged under a hill that had turned white from the snow that was now falling heavily. As you walked inside, you could feel the imperialness overwhelm you. The gold jewelry, together with the silver blades, shields and weapons and other precious ornaments that were found in the sealed-off tomb sparkled in the darkness of the museum. It was all too much for words. It was so much more than Billy ever imagined. There was even the exact entrance of the royal burial chamber, left just as it was found by the archaeologists. You could just feel the magnificence it emanated and the chills that would have filled the very people who first discovered this.

Macedonian-queen's-wreathBilly was enthralled and enraptured by every piece of that museum. So much, that he did not even realise he had seen it all, twice, and that it was now time to go. He had to hurry back if he was to catch the last train home.

But did he have to scramble with bus routes again? Fortunately, there was a tourist group leaving the museum at the same time, and he was smart and lucky enough to smuggle into the back of the bus without being seen; he was small enough and looked foreign so he could easily be assumed to be one of the group. The only problem was, he didn’t know where the bus was heading to.

The group stopped for lunch somewhere, and Billy jumped off, noticing that a bus with the same number as the one that brought him from the station was about to depart across the street. He ran again and jumped in. “I bet the Kings didn’t have such problems,” he thought to himself as he arrived at the train station still panting.

DSC00815Just as he got off the bus, the train stationmaster appeared, straightening his thick white moustache, and pulling up his trousers to cover his oversized belly. It was snowing very heavily now and the train tracks could not even be seen.

I’m afraid you’re gonna have to find alternative transport, young man. There are no trains passing tonight.

Billy froze. Literally. You could stick a hat on him and call him a snowman.

The bus driver who had just dropped him off felt pity for him and offered to take him to the suburban bus station, where after more expenses and another couple of hours, Billy was finally back home, wrapped under a blanket in front of the fireplace.

It’s no easy task visiting a King!

 

N.B. 1 This story was inspired by a visit to the Macedonian Royal Tombs in Vergina, Greece and the adventure to get there.

N.B. 2. The photos are mine, taken in Aegae (Vergina) and Veria respectively on 30 December 2014.

Who is #Charlie?

Darrin Bell

©DarrinBell

Since the bloody attack on Wednesday 07 January 2015 on the French satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo, which resulted in the murder of 12 people, including the chief-editor and four cartoonists, a lot has emerged. The shock and horror of this action intensified in the next two days, with more murders, as the terrorists were finally killed on Friday 09 January 2015, after a police siege ended two hostage situations in Paris. The Internet is being overflooded with articles, opinions, memes, and messages of support, declaring #JeSuisCharlie, or #JeNeSuisPasCharlie, or even #JeSuisAhmed in honour of the Muslim police officer who was so ruthlessly shot by the attackers. But who really is this Charlie, and what does it all mean? Charlie Hebdo is a French satirical weekly newspaper, featuring cartoons, reports, polemics, and jokes. It describes itself as left-wing and anti-racist and is Irreverent and stridently non-conformist in tone. It first appeared as “Hara-Kiri” in 1960 and later changed its name in order to overcome the ban that was imposed in November 1970 after its cover spoofed popular press coverage of the death of former French President Charles de Gaulle, eight days after a night-club disaster that resulted in 146 dead. The new name was derived from a monthly comics magazine called Charlie Mensuel. Charlie allegedly took its name from Charlie Brown, the lead character of Peanuts – one of the comics originally published in Charlie Mensuel – and was also an inside joke about Charles de Gaulle.

Jean Jullien

©JeanJullien

Over the years, the publication has been criticized and even banned due to its controversial cartoons, particularly attacking religion. It was some of these cartoons, ridiculing the Prophet Mohammed that reportedly led to the 7 January attacks during the morning editorial meeting of the paper. It is argued that the paper is being racist, not respecting other religions and insulting the faith of a minority, which has never really ever felt welcome in France anyway. Hence the growing of the #JeNeSuisPasCharlie group. Editors are faced with a tough dilemma as to whether they should reproduce these controversial cartoons, with many uttering “what right do I have to risk the lives of my staff to make a point?

David Pope

©DavidPope

Yet, on the other hand, around the world, the debate of freedom of expression and the right to be able to say, write or paint anything is being bellowed across social media, in mainstream news, and in candle-lit staged protests in central squares and outside French embassies. #JeSuisCharlie is a message of solidarity. It is a message that the pen is more powerful than the sword. That if you are so easily affected and offended by words and cartoons, then you should think deeper about what it is that you truly believe in. In fact, cartoonists all over the world have joined their voices and pens in protesting against the attempt to silence them and declaring support to Charlie Hebdo.

Samiamidi

©AikateriniAndreou

The Charlie Hebdo attacks demonstrated to the world that no matter how technologically and socially advanced we proclaim we are, we are still very backward in our mentality. Yes, we do have to consider carefully what we say and do in order not to offend anyone, but when does that become censorship? If people are supposed to be able to freely express themselves, shouldn’t we be equally tolerable of everyone’s opinion? Was it not Voltaire who said that “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it”?

Patrick Chappatte

©PatrickChappatte

This is also what led to the emergence of #JeSuisAhmed. Ahmed was the 42-year old French police officer who was shot and killed on 7 January. He was a Muslim who died, fighting to defend a publication known for insulting his culture and religion. Without discrimination. Without hesitation. Because he knew, like so many Muslims who condemned the attack, that violence is not an answer to anything. In fact, by “sharpening the contradictions” that have so loudly appeared after this tragic attack, we are all feeding into the hatred, the polarization, and the atrocity. This publication, is not the only one that used cartoons to satirize political, social and religious life. In fact, people who understand the importance of humor in our lives, take it lightly and enjoy such criticisms. From Plato, Voltaire, Jonathan Swift, George Orwell to Stephen Colbert, Jon Stuart and even Matt Stone and Trey Parker (South Park), satire has always been crucial to a healthy life. Because it would, supposedly, lead to a better comprehension of our life and help improve it. Reacting with extremism is the worst that could happen, because “extremism thrives on other people’s extremism and is inexorably defeated by tolerance”. Take a pen out and write something. Witness how easy and permanent it is to scribble a word, and how difficult it is to erase it. Consider what would you like to be, the pen or the eraser?

©BernardoErlich “The world has become so serious that humour is now a risky profession.”

©BernardoErlich “The world has become so serious that humour is now a risky profession.”

The story and debate that has erupted is not about satire. It is far beyond it. The violent attacks will lead to repercussions on all sides. And it is already evident at how other media, mosques and international organisations are on high security alert. Fear is taking over once again. So, we need to ensure that this demonstration of solidarity that begins by lifting a pen and raising your voice will ensue. That it will trump over the hatred and will rally behind a common cause – that of accepting difference, respecting others and committing “to defeating those hell-bent on destroying the common fabric of our society”. It is now the time more than ever to prove that we, as multicultural societies, can live together in peace. Western heads-of-state have over time urged media not to publish certain stories or cartoons even – as in the case of investigative journalist Gary Webb and Charlie Hebdo’s editor-in-chief, Stephane “Charb” Charbonnier. Both refused, no matter how precipitous developments may follow or as how offensive they might be perceived. Charb remained defiant even after al-Qaeda reportedly placed his name on an “enemies of Islam’s Prophet Muhammad” hit list. Two years ago, explaining why he continued to publish cartoons criticizing Islam, despite threats to his publication, Charb said, “I prefer to die standing than to live on my knees.Jouralism - Orwell Freedom of expression is a fundamental liberty and a right that we all so profoundly demand. But this attack was not just on journalists, it was on society as a whole, on people who dare to be different. It was a wake-up call that nothing can, or should be, taken for granted. And it was an alert that we do not live in as much a liberal world as we want it to be.

Also part of Daily Prompt: (Your thing) for Dummies

If you need me, I’ll be by the door

embarrassed-bunnyMacy’s evening did not start out all that well. Her office had decided to host an all-in-one holiday evening, which meant they would all celebrate Secret Santa, Hanukkah, New Year and Three Kings all tonight. So they had to do the gift exchange thing, which had turned out strangely from the minute she picked out the name from the Santa hat.

How was she supposed to know Jay was a girl’s name? The only Jay she knew was Leno and he was all masculine.

So she had picked out an elegant black and silver silk tie for the supposed male receiver of the gift. She had no idea who Jay was anyway, as the office had so many external associates and there was not a lot of teamwork involved from other departments. So, she didn’t know her gift provider either. Anyhow, the minute the female Jay clapped in joy as she heard her turn was up to receive her secret gift, Macy froze and became paler than the icing on the Christmas cake. She handed the parcel with a trembling hand and barely managed to mutter anything.

She was lucky the female Jay liked to wear ties as accessories. She considered them luxurious fashion items and was thrilled by the “softness of the real silk”. So Macy got away with it.

Then, she didn’t want a piece of the Christmas cake or pudding, because she didn’t like the dried fruit they contained. So she decided instead to cut a piece of the other cake next to it. It appeared like a sponge cake and seemed tastier. It would fit better with her tea.

How was she supposed to know it was the Gallette des rois? And that they were supposed to cut it after the gift exchange was completed? With her lucky streak continuing, Macy even found the trinket in her piece. She couldn’t place the cake back now, without pushing and shoving and causing more crumbles. She was feeling a heatstroke approaching as her face reddened up. She decided it would be easier to just walk away.

So she took her porcelain tea cup, careful not to cause anymore destruction tonight, and stood by the door.

She hoped nobody would notice that the King’s Cake was already cut. But they did. And she appeared just as shocked as everybody else. But given the holidays, and the fact that the cake was in essence still whole, nobody paid too much attention to the “mishap”. But luck had it that Macy was awarded the very piece she had cut. With the trinket. Which meant she had to wear the pretend crown and be the centre of attention for the rest of the evening. Something which she absolutely despised.

The moment the music was on louder, though, everyone pretty much forgot about the gifts and cakes and all those things, and began to dance their troubles away.

Dean, a young man who worked in the next door department to Macy, even smiled at her and she blushed. She felt silly, flirting like a little girl. But then Frank Sinatra began to sing “Come fly with me” and Dean grabbed her hand and pulled her onto the dance floor.

Until that moment, all she could think about was being as close to the door as possible; so she could make a run for it. But dancing in the arms of a charming man, and letting everything else slide out of her mind, yes, that was definitely better.

 

Also part of Daily Prompt: Comedy of Errors

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